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LaRose joins list of investigation into teacher retirement system

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(The Center Square) – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is joining the investigation of the State Teachers Retirement System.

Shortly after Attorney General Dave Yost launched a wide-sweeping investigation into the $90 billion fund for 500,000 current and former teachers, LaRose said his Public Integrity Unit is stepping up its look into potential campaign finance violations.

LaRose announced after Gov. Mike DeWine sent the secretary of state documents.

“My office received a referral from Gov. DeWine asking us to review what he describes as disturbing allegations about the STRS board,” LaRose said. “I’ve directed my Public Integrity Division to expand our ongoing investigation into potential STRS-related campaign finance violations, which were brought to our attention several weeks ago by a tip from a concerned citizen. I believe the governor’s referral is in part specific to that investigation, but if we find additional allegations or evidence of wrongdoing, we’ll pursue it and take any appropriate action under the law.”

Yost spokewoman Bethany McCorkle told The Center Square last week the documents were sent unsigned. DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney told The Center Square the governor’s office believes they were delivered and compiled by retirement system staff.

On Saturday, Michelle Flanigan was elected to the retirement system board. She is a 26-year government, economics and financial literacy teacher at the Brunswick City Schools. Before becoming a teacher, she was a financial analyst.

Last week, Yost announced his investigation, saying the move is an effort to protect teachers’ retirement accounts.

The documents say the retirement system has been the target of QED Systematic Solutions LLC, a private investment entity, for the past four years. The documents say QED is led by former Ohio Deputy Treasurer Seth Metcalf, Jonathan Tremmel and leadership of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association.

The Ohio Lobbying Activity Center lists Metcalf and Tremmel as agents for QED Technologies LLC.

Based on a recommendation from Auditor Keith Faber, the retirement system retained national consulting firm Aon for guidance and corporate governance, according to DeWine.

Aon recently ended its contract with the retirement system. DeWine said that a red flag, calling into question how it operates. He also said the system could be out of compliance with audit recommendations because Aon ended the contract.

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